In Greek mythology, the nymphs were tiny and minor goddesses that each presided over a type of landscape feature. Normally something glimmering, glittering and bewitching in nature like waterfalls, streams, mountains, lakes or trees.
The name nymphe means bride in Greek and so the tiny and bewitching nymphs represented the brides or maidens of the natural world. During the 18th Century, the word nymph took on a medicalised tone with the invention of the word nymphomania to describe women who experience uncontrollable sexual desire. Although, truth be told, in the archaic myths of ancient Greece, it was the nymphs who had to fend off the advances of horny satyrs and Olympians.
Dryads: Found lingering amongst the trees
Hersperides: found during the dusk wandering through gardens and promoting the growth of apples.
Hyades: Nymphs found fluttering through downpours and torrents of rain.
Meliads: Located in among the ghostly ash trees
Naiads: glimmering nymphs native to gentle streams and creeks
Nereids: Stoic nymphs that calm down stormy seas
Oceanids: Powerful water nymphs that traverse the oceans
Oreads: Soaring and sky-brushing nymphs that live in the mountains
Pleiades: Seven nymphs associated with the goddess Artemis, later turned into a famous constellation.
Source: Opening Pandora’s Box by Ferdie Addis
Theoi: The most comprehensive online encyclopedia of ancient Greece I have ever seen
7 thoughts on “Ancient word of the day: Nymph”
Just uploaded a word of the day as well- prefer yours! Wasn’t Achilles’s mother a sea nymph / lesser goddess? Madeline Miller had more than a few in her books.
Thanka Jeremy…yeah I have to read that book Circe it’s on my shelf. I remember you saying it was good. I don’t know much about nymphs really. I learn as I go with writing them….the idea of the nymphs is absolutely fascinating though, look forward to seeing them all in Madeleine Miller’s book. I got this idea out of a book I reviewed a while ago called Pandora’s Box about Classical History
Ah Circe is a good read — think you’ll really enjoy it given many of the ancient words of the day you select! The Song of Achilles is also good
Oh I’m looking forward to it. I’m so glad I got it thanks for recommending
The imagery alone sucks us in
Thank you Jess…yeah I thought so too, it transports you into a liminal half-real world, pure magic eh 🙂